April 19th, 2014
10:09 AM ET

How U.S. is lagging on quality of life

Fareed speaks with Michael Porter, a professor at the Harvard Business School, about a groundbreaking new Social Progress Index – and how the United States is lagging on many indicators. Watch the video for the full interview or on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

You were shocked at what you learned about America.

Yes, I think this wasn’t the picture of America that I think many of us Americans have – that we are a leader, a social leader, that we've advanced the ball in terms of opportunity and the needs of our citizens. And it shows anything but that.

So if you look at the Social Progress Index, on the whole, what's striking is the top countries are New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, these small countries. But basically then a lot of European countries and Canada beat the United States.


The United States is 16, Ireland is ahead of it, Japan is ahead of it, Britain is ahead of it, Germany is ahead of it.


What does that tell us? What does that measure?

So this effort tries to really, for the first time ever, take let's call it the social or community or quality of life dimensions of a society, and capture those in a rigorous measurement framework – using the best data available in the world. That's the best and objective measures of these various multiple things. But of course, social progress is a broad concept.

Right. And that's where you break it down into these subcategories. Health and wellness, Japan is number one, Italy is number two, Switzerland is number three. You have to go all the way to 70 to get to the United States.

It's an area where the U.S. – if you actually look objectively, we're just not delivering. We actually spend the most money on this of any country in the world, probably in all of recorded history, in terms of our health care budget every year. But in terms of the actual outcomes – and by the way, the Social Progress Index measures the outcomes you achieve, not how much you spend, not how much you care, not whether you have a big heart…



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Topics: Economy • GPS Show • United States

soundoff (1,077 Responses)
  1. chrissy

    Imagine that! Exactly what ive been saying for quite some time! On an earlier thread someone asked a question along the line of "how does it feel to be a third world country"? It may have been worded a bit different but thats close. Anyway safe bet that the majority of Americans now know how at feels since thats what we've become! So much for that "greatest country" crap!

    April 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      If you think that the USA's quality of life is low now, wait thirty or forty years and look at it then.
      Our aspiration to a lower level of culture, and away from elitist activities such as listening to operas or actually learning to read music instead of just singing the song that yo "wrote,"

      April 19, 2014 at 5:39 pm | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        ...that you "wrote," is quickly leading us to a new bottom.
        it is easier to walk down into the Grand Canyon than it is to walk back up.

        April 19, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
      • billf

        i liked yo wrote better.

        April 20, 2014 at 10:41 am |
    • Dan

      I agree many first world nations have much better standards of living than the US, but if you think the US is a third world nation you have never been to one even for a few seconds.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:44 am | Reply
  2. GOP Prayer

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Reply
    • Kldcoombs

      Yes, things are much better after 6 years of the most liberal government in US history.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
      • Dan

        Considerably better. Go check unemployment after the economy fell apart, but just before Obama took office. Things are significantly better now, but yeah still a long ways to go. You cannot repair an entire broken economy in a decade, and that was said by everyone who mattered even before Obama took the reigns.

        April 20, 2014 at 10:46 am |
      • Goatboy

        Most liberal? You brainwashed Cons are so far right that you think a centrist is a leftist? Richard Nixon was to the left of Obama.

        April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am |
      • Josh

        Obviously you failed your government history class. The current administration would be considered very conservative by global standards. Obama really has not been that much different from Bush.

        April 20, 2014 at 11:03 am |
      • geodude11

        No new wars to kill young Americans, is that what upsets you liars most? Or the fact that a black man beat you like redheaded stepchildren twice!! George W's legacy: murder on a national scale and he brought a black man into the White House!!

        April 20, 2014 at 11:22 am |
    • jharry

      You are a joke.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:48 am | Reply
      • But

        But a "spot on" joke.

        April 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • tom

      America is different from the countries ahead of us on this list. We have different demographics. If you are smart, educated, and ambitious you can live better and wealthier than any people on earth. If you are fat, lazy, and ignorant, you are screwed!!

      April 20, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
      • geodude11

        You drink the kool-aid of the fools daily.

        April 20, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • Ken Sharpe

      I know this is meant to be funny and it is, but it is also "spot-on".

      April 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • TomS234

      Now that's B. S.

      April 21, 2014 at 12:55 am | Reply
      • You voted for Palin didn't you

        You voted for Palin didn't you. That says it all.

        April 24, 2014 at 9:09 am |
  3. chrissy

    Ok i don't know if you're really our Joey or not but i agree! Can't picture @ Joey using "yo" but its true! And at the rate we are going with whole school districts closing quicker than they were started...it may be a much shorter time frame! Bad enough there are very few jobs, but then they shut down education on top of that? A city of more than 20,000 people and not ONE school? How does that happen in this day and age?

    April 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy, I did not write the "yo"there. The phone malfunctioned, hence the break. I'd intended "your."
      I wrote that plea for vision, aspiration, education, et al.
      On rare occasions, I do say "yo." I know lots of big words.

      April 19, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        No. I meant to write "you," as it appears right after the "yo."

        April 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
      • Truth

        Typical liberal reaction – blaming your own incompetence on a device – a device by the way that never would have been invented in today's Obama handout world.

        We are dumbing down day by day – yet I get even richer on Obama's policies. He simply hands out tiny amounts to keep the lower class somewhat satisfied while us "rich" get richer.

        April 20, 2014 at 10:54 am |
  4. chrissy

    Lol its ok @ Joey i saw that in your post after that one. You do realise that is a slang word todays teens use though right? They call it "ghetto" which means hip or cool, depending on your teenage era. Lmao

    April 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Yo @ chrissy, I been knowing that.
      When I was a teenager, we used "swell."

      April 20, 2014 at 7:20 am | Reply
    • outofafrika

      blacks like to equate themselves with JEWS...who really did come from ghettoes and were slaughtered in masse. Blacks never had it so good as they do in the US playing basketball fer billions and getting free food on down the trough!

      April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
  5. hey...

    JIF likes pepperoni pizza just like that chrissy character.

    April 20, 2014 at 1:47 am | Reply
  6. ✠RZ✠

    Part 1.
    Quality of life? Let's just put that thought on hold for now and take a closer look instead at the actual VALUE OF LIFE. Just what is your life worth and maybe that of most every other average Joe in the eyes of governments? The answer is a clear and resounding "jack squat". That's right. Take a look at Texan Clive Bundy, his livelihood, his cattle, and whole lot of other good citizens who might have tried to think differently. They aren't worth an old dried up desert tortoise. And by golly, according to Senator Reid they're all nothing but "domestic terr'ists". Granted, there are evidently some legal and monetary disputes involved in Bundy's case, but rather than addressing and dealing with those issues through regular legal proceedings and enforcement, Washington would sooner send in their mercenaries and drones. We're not talking exercise here folks, this is real-world.

    April 20, 2014 at 8:04 am | Reply
    • Dan

      Of course they are terrorists. They threatened to kill law enforcement and innocent family members including children. These were not ambiguous threats either. Regardless of whether you agree with their grievance or not, threatening the lives of innocents is what qualifies as terrorism.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:50 am | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        Not too sure about that Dan, innocent lives have apparently been threatened and taken in one form of another here for centuries, but under local laws we have typically labelled such parties "criminals", "outlaws", "murderers", etc, but not so readily "terr'ists". (sorry, can't get over that Jessie Jackson lingo).

        April 20, 2014 at 11:01 am |
    • John Smith

      Yes breaking the law loosing in court multiple times not paying fees or taxes is the new American way. Anyone who takes on the Government for any reason MUST be right and we must all support their efforts, legal or not or the big bad government may come after us next Oooh scary!

      April 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
      • ✠RZ✠

        If Clive Bundy belongs in jail, then so be it, lets put him in jail. But don't go labelling him Clive Bin Laden unless your prepared to call every person who might break the law by the same name.

        April 20, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
    • SuZieCoyote

      Bunday is a crook, and an anarchist. When he decided the laws of the land didn't apply to himself, he called his buddies with guns and threatened to put the women between his posse and the government. He is a swine. Why people support this man is a mystery.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  7. ✠RZ✠

    Part 2.
    And what about all those Ukrainians? Apparently the whole lot of them are barely worth a few phone calls amongst the likes of Yobama, Pootine, and Mirakle. Judge the results for yourselves. It's a money and land grab hopefully all to be buried under some trumped up war or threat thereof. Your governments and world leaders would rather put more time and effort into spending millions of dollars to look at fracking the gas from Uranus rather than deal with the hundreds of thousands of human lives and the hundreds of millions of livelihoods being lost.

    April 20, 2014 at 8:04 am | Reply
  8. ✠RZ✠

    Part 3. final
    So, getting back now to the quality of life. Are you kidding me? Seriously? Hey, there's enough writing on the wall and reality in our faces. Entertain yourself by googling a famous bit by the late great George Carlon because "They've got us all by the balls"".

    April 20, 2014 at 8:36 am | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      Sincere regrets for misspell of Carlin. There was much much more to part 3 but auto censored resulting in numerous edits and attempts to get anything at all through.

      April 20, 2014 at 8:41 am | Reply
  9. chrissy

    Lmao @ RZ you've done it again! Happy Easter.

    April 20, 2014 at 9:23 am | Reply
  10. Larry

    In the countries ahead of us people don't expect hand outs. They work and earn their quality of life. We've become a country of hand outs making us dependent on the politicians. Just look at the article yesterday where 1/3 of our country is now on government hand outs.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • Dan

      One of the top countries is Switzerland which is often referred to people on the right such as yourself as the land of socialism. In fact, nearly every country listed ahead of the US spends a much larger percent of money on social welfare type programs.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • MilitaryAF

      Wrong buddy. If you look at all the countries that are ahead of us, they have much stronger social programs such as universal health care, unemployment that covers at least 2/3 to 75% of your former pay, and other, that ensure a mistake or issue doesn't drive a person/family into abject poverty.

      April 20, 2014 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • Profile Of The Typical Republican Voter

      1. Thinks they themselves are rich.
      2. Makes less than $100,000/yr.
      3. Has a net worth less than $200,000.
      4. Primary residence is on wheels or blocks.
      5. Still has a mortgage on that residence.
      6. Thinks republicans are conservatives.
      7. Benefits directly from the ACA but really, really hates Obamacare.
      8. Thinks they are religious but they should read the book, "How NOT To Be A Republican" (a.k.a. The Bible).
      9. Probably retired and depending on SS and Medicare or will be the person most likely to need SS and Medicare.
      10. Racist.
      11. Likes to vote against their own interests.
      12. Actually thinks republicans represent THEM!!

      April 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • John Smith

      You are turning into a country of handouts because you are giving away the country to the rich, giving them tax breaks and subsidizing their profits on the back of the poor and middle class. In a few short years there will only be the rich and the rest. You are your own worst enemy. Rich corporations pay there employee's as little as possible relying on government programs so their employee's can survive. Government subsidized corporate slavery. The american way Money above all

      April 20, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  11. Eddy

    Sorry, anti-Americans, but life still does not get any better than it does in the U.S. There is a reason why we still attract the most immigrants of all the countries in the world.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • orcahawk

      Yea those Germans, Norwegians, Kiwis and Canucks are just beating down the doors to get into the U.S., aren't they?

      April 20, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
      • John Smith

        Yeah that is a pretty good joke isn't it. Used to visit the US. No more though, just to crazy down there.

        April 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • ✠RZ✠

      Granted Eddy, though certainly not in all cases. And according to Larry above it might very well be because of government handouts. A state providing welfare for 33% of it's population ? So, putting all our individual sentiments and personal perspectives aside and just considering the real situation/numbers/amounts, what might be the explanation for all this and why the government would condone or even perhaps pursue such a policy?

      April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • eduardvalx123

      I dont want to live in the U.S, U.S society is one of the worst scoieties of the world,evrybody hates america for being stupid

      April 20, 2014 at 11:38 am | Reply
      • derbarkasmann

        Americans are not stupid, but many of us are ignorant.

        April 20, 2014 at 11:59 pm |
    • Mick

      My wife and I like to holiday in the U.S., partially to escae our somewhat gloomy Wet Coast climate during our "winter" season, but we are always, without exception, glad to come back to our beloved Canada.

      April 21, 2014 at 12:17 am | Reply
  12. Bob

    What a gigantic load of BS.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • eduardvalx123

      Mad? U.S has always lagged behind you brainwashed pig. 🙂

      April 20, 2014 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • James Oliver

      Yeah, I agree. Can't imagine the US is that high in the rankings.

      April 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  13. orcahawk

    They just need to use a 1%er for the American example.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
  14. CZ Henderson

    If the quality of American life is 'sick,' then let's do a diagnosis. Ask and answer the basic questions. Define the symptoms: What does it cost the average person to live in America. Check the current state of health: Can the average American income meet these costs? Catalog the outside influence contributing to the condition: Why do things cost as much as they do? Who gets rich off this situation and how does that work? Then, prescribe a course of treatment: A combination of political, corporate, educational and social policies that, in proper doses, restore the national well-being.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • orcahawk

      The exercise is to compare it to others, not judge it on its solo merits.

      The US is a great place for some of its citizens. Not so much others.

      April 20, 2014 at 10:47 am | Reply
  15. Kevin

    Further proof that the US is NOT the "greatest country in the world". A big military and a large economy doesn't mean squal to the average citizen, all that really matters is how good or bad THEIR life is. So take you're "we're the greatest" and shove it. The rest of us know what a joke it is, and we're quite happy that we DON'T live in the US. Only those who live in horrible countries or those who have fallen for the propaganda want to live in your hole of a country

    April 20, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
    • lcpl smuckateli

      u must live in pakistan

      April 20, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
  16. Miller

    There is a three letter answer to our abysmal ranking......G O P.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:45 am | Reply
  17. Dennis

    @Larry, actually what those countries have is a more socialistic structure and in particular, nationalized healthcare. Having lived in several of the countries in the list ahead of the U.S., the ONLKY thing that any of them have that make their quality of life better is healthcare. They're no more industrious than the american worker, in fact, probably less so. Most are more unionized and/or socialized. You know Larry....they take care of each other but don't let facts get in the way.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • John Smith

      And there you have it. they are societies that look after EACH other. How anti American can you get!

      April 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm | Reply
  18. outofafrika

    US has fostered handout behavior for far too long now...gave to blacks too much and they squander it...END of story. The handout line keeps on going and will not stop...that is the way blacks like it...FREE and FREEDOM comes second!

    April 20, 2014 at 10:49 am | Reply
    • lcpl smuckateli

      trolling huh?

      April 20, 2014 at 11:04 am | Reply
  19. andrew

    People need to go to infowars and see the pictures of the BLM mass cattle grave near the Bundy ranch in Nevada. What kind of federal government do we have? Why is Eric Holder not in jail? Start asking these questions and you will begin to have your answer to what has happened to America.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:51 am | Reply
  20. AEH

    The US pays for most of the medical research. Other countries tag along and avoid long patent lives.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:51 am | Reply
  21. Dennis

    @Kevin very not true. The quality of life beyond healthcare is very very high in the U.S.. You should read the article and make an effort to understand it's point. Our healthcare system is 70th. We're still 16th. Our healthcare system is abysmal. If you can afford it, the technology is second to none but few can afford it. Aside from that we have a wonderful country but don't let reality get in the way of your ignorant hatred.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
  22. orange

    More indicators that the US is in absolute decline, although it's hard to find Americans who are willing to admit that.

    "WE'RE NUMBER ONE". Right. Number one in obesity, and number one in the number of adults who believe in angels.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Cory

      Actually, Mexico is #1 in obesity; you should try to keep up with current world events.

      April 20, 2014 at 11:09 am | Reply
  23. Jason Glugla

    We need a President to have the guts to tell the truth, that this isn't the greatest country in the world. We are not even in the top 10 in terms of happiness of the people. We sure have alot of happy multi-national corporations and billionaires though.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:55 am | Reply
  24. rbwmdphd

    We are the ONLY first world country still without a single payer, nationalized healthcare system. SHAME ON US!

    April 20, 2014 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • Cory

      And yet we have a higher survival rate for all forms of cancer than countries with single-payer, nationalized healthcare, as well as an average overall life expectency that is only one or two years less than citizens of most Western European countries (BUT such a small gap is probably the result of minority murder rates that skew the American average; in other words "White" Americans probably live just as long as their "White" European counterparts). How do you explain these two facts, since "free" healthcare supposedly works micracles in your eyes?

      April 20, 2014 at 11:16 am | Reply
      • John Smith

        Only if you can afford it, those that can't are not added to the statistics, amazing how you can make the numbers show what you want.

        April 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
  25. stopillegals

    Our quality of life is decreasing because we let all these illegals from Mexico come in and leech off our country. They clog up our prisons, schools, hospitals and welfare systems. They do not pay taxes and have proliferate like rats.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:56 am | Reply
  26. outofafrika

    Too much freedom...just like too much pu ssy is not good fer the soul! Tends to stand in the way of progress!

    April 20, 2014 at 10:57 am | Reply
  27. ohjoymorestudies

    Apparently we rank 80th in terms of political terror. The rest of the world must think we live in Nazi Germany or something. Hard for me to take studies like this seriously.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • eduardvalx123

      Maybe your IQ isnt unable to graspo the whole concept,the rest of the world thinks U.S citizens are stupid,and YES you are ! 😉

      April 20, 2014 at 11:43 am | Reply
      • ohjoymorestudies

        Your petty comments certainly don't make you look intelligent. Maybe it is all just in your head.

        April 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
  28. southernbutnotstupid

    RZ – re Clive Bundy the govt did go through legal means for 20 years trying to deal with this man who does not recognize the federal govt and the courts also ruled against him; he just didn't want to pay grazing fees on federal land that hundreds of other ranchers pay – he is no patriot just a cheap rich rancher

    April 20, 2014 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      Assuming you are entirely correct, in that case like most every American citizen with rights under municipal, state, federal law, Bundy should be charged, arrested if applicable, and tried under due process like any other criminals. And if found guilty, fined, jailed, hung or what have you.

      April 20, 2014 at 11:13 am | Reply
  29. larry lawrence

    I do not know how most Americans are even go by. It cost so much money to go to private school and university. You have to save for retirement. You own a home and have a mortgage. You have to pay a lot for health care. Your children cost money. How do the Americans can manage all this? In Europe everything is free, with the exception of the loan for your home. Maybe they only buy very, very cheap non-quality stuff and fast-food. That would explain the obesity problem. The US does not care about its citizens. Everything is about the profit of the banks and big corporations.

    It is hard to compare the US to anything but a vulture. It rose on blood and misery of WWII. By making minimal effort or sacrifices for decades it has put its dirty fingers in so many countries and it has laid brutal claim where it has none. It has secured its parasitic existence by cornering world economies and enslaving them with useless paper known as dollar; as well as assassinating independent political leaders.

    The world needs to understand that this parasite lives from death and destruction to sustain its own economy. Be it by creating chaos or raiding and destroying beautiful countries around the world for resources.

    It wants to have financial monopoly. It never has good intention. Never, ever! Its intention is to print useless dollars and have the world work to sustain its miserable existence.

    April 20, 2014 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • Bill

      Wow Larry, you need to take a nap and calm down.

      April 20, 2014 at 11:19 am | Reply
    • John Smith

      Actually pretty straight forward and to the point. The US does like to push their agenda on everyone else as they think their way is the only way. Too much arrogance does not make many real friends

      April 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Reply
  30. outofafrika

    blacks are LAZY, fat, corpulent, ROTUND, and OBESE! THAT is the way it is and will NOT CHANGE! NEVA, EVA!!!

    April 20, 2014 at 11:00 am | Reply
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